w winj02 .pdf



Nom original: w_winj02.pdf
Titre: Reporting Software 101
Auteur: Windward Studios

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White Paper

Reporting, Analytics, Business Intelligence (BI)
and Data Visualization Software Explained
Got Data?
You’ve got company data—lots of it. And you want to get it from point A (your database or other data source)
to point B (an output format) so that your customers can use it. Clearly you need some sort of software
application, but what type?

Pop quiz: Which type of app should you
use to present your data?
a. Reporting software
b. Document Generation software
c. Business Intelligence software
d. Analytics software
e. Some combination of the above
f. None of the above

Answer: It depends.
That’s right; the application you should use
depends upon your situation and how you
define the above terms.
Windward has been in the reporting software
industry for more than a dozen years, and
along the way we’ve seen many different ideas
of what “reporting,” “analytics,” “business
intelligence” and other related terms mean.
We wrote this primer to bring clarity to this topic
and to help you understand what sort of tool will
best benefit your company.

To get data from a data source and into a useful document,
you need a some type of software program—but which one?

www.windward.net • sales@windward.net • +1.303.499.2544

2

What is Reporting Software?
Search online for “reporting software” and you’re faced with an array of results, some of which seemingly have
nothing to do with one another. So let’s start by presenting our definition:
Reporting Software: An application that pulls data from a data source (cloud, database, XML file, etc.) and
displays that data so that users can easily make sense of it.
You use reporting software to create a template. The template has fixed elements along with placeholders for
data, or what Windward calls tags. When you run the report, the template populates with the most up-to-date
information stored in your data source.
Invoices, inventory tallies, financial statements,
product usage tables and more are all types of
reports generated by reporting software. For
example, CodeObjects, an insurance process
management software company, provides
customers automation services throughout the
entire insurance application process. They use
reporting software to generate reports that
prove client compliance with state and federal
regulations.
Lastly, these are the main reporting subcategories as we define them:
1. Embedded reporting. Reporting
functionality that is embedded into your
company’s software application.
2. Enterprise reporting. Stand-alone
software that you use to generate
reports.
3. Mobile reporting. Reporting
components that embed into your
mobile application.
4. Web-based reporting. The act of
generating reports from a Web interface.

Reporting software was used to create this financial
statement.

The Line Blurs: How Document Generation and Mail Merge
Resemble Reporting
Like reporting, document generation (docgen) is an automated way of producing a document. You create a
template and when you generate the output, specific information populates the template. For a detailed look
at docgen, we recommend you download our white paper “What’s Up, Doc? The Definitive Guide to Document
Generation.”

www.windward.net • sales@windward.net • +1.303.499.2544

3

From our perspective, the difference between reporting software and document generation software is
subtle—our customers use our solution for both—and whether you define what you do as reporting or docgen
depends upon whether you consider the output a document or a report.
Mail merge is also an automated way to produce documents. Mail merge originally was used in the computer
industry as a term referring to the process of taking contact information (name, address, phone number, etc.)
from a data source and automatically inserting that data into letters, mailing labels and other documents
related to personalized mail.
The term is both evolving and waning in usage; it is now used to mean turning any template into a personalized
document, such as a monthly bank statement.

Reporting Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) Dashboards
Now our topic gets even murkier. Reporting analytics and business intelligence applications are very different,
both from each other and from reporting software, but we find that many companies use all three terms
interchangeably. This has led to confusion with customers during initial discussions about what solutions
would work best for them.
Based on how we’ve seen the market
evolve over the past decade, here’s how
we define these terms:
Reporting analytics relies on algorithms
to statistically determine relationships
among various data points. Reporting
analytics software uses scientific
formulas to find groupings or trends,
and it allows for predictive forecasting
based on the data at hand.
Reporting can be a small part of
analytics as it could be used to retrieve
the data for these formulas, but
reporting software does not do the
analytics.

If your output has high-end charting and graphing,
you most likely are using a business intelligence tool.

Business Intelligence (BI) is a super set
of analytics. It is the practice of using
all the formulas and outputs analytics
comes up with and putting that
information into digestible terms.

Forrester Research calls BI “a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that leverage
the output of information management processes for analysis, reporting, performance management, and
information delivery.”
Most of the time, BI is referring to data visualization (high-end charting and graphing) or high-end data
dashboards, which reporting software does not typically handle.

www.windward.net • sales@windward.net • +1.303.499.2544

4

So, Which Tool Do You Need?

About Windward

Still wondering what’s best way to get your data
from Point A to Point B?

For businesses in document-intensive
industries, Windward Studios is the document
generation and reporting software company
that empowers business professionals to
create beautiful, professional reports.

As we see it, your choice boils down to one of these
three situations:
1. If you want to create a template to
present data and that template will
be run again and again for different
customers, groups of data, etc., then you
need reporting software.

Windward OEM and enterprise customers
span over 70 countries and all industries,
including financial services, insurance, energy,
healthcare, HR and technology. We’ve been
delighting customers since 2004.

2. If you want to create a template to
present data and that template will be
run again and again for different data—
and the output is some sort of letter,
contract or other document—then you
need docgen software.

Our primary products are AutoTag , a design
tool that creates custom templates with
Microsoft Office, and a Java or .NET engine
that connects to virtually any data source.

3. If you want to manipulate raw data with
variable values to expose trends and
patterns, especially through visualization,
then you need an analytics or BI tool.

Windward delivers exceptional support,
training, and documentation, with a 98%
satisfaction rating from our customers. We’re
a Microsoft Gold and an Oracle Gold partner.

If you answered #1 or #2 above, the white paper Your Complete Checklist for Evaluating Reporting Software
will get you started by showing you the questions to ask when considering a reporting or docgen solution.

The Windward Difference
Are you in need of reporting or document generation software? Then we invite you to look at the Windward
solution. We believe that reporting should be simple and that free-form template design is a must, because you
deserve attractive, informative and impressive reports.
Windward provides a unique experience using Microsoft Office to format and edit report templates. Behind
the scenes, Windward’s sophisticated engine pulls data from multiple sources and merges that data into your
reports, creating a fast and hassle-free experience that can make generating reports fun.
Windward delivers a solution that allows IT professionals to create basic templates and business users to
customize those templates and create variations to meet their document generation needs. For details about
the technology and how it has been successfully deployed, please visit the Windward Studios website for an
overview video and free trial.

Improve Your Software Product’s Reporting and Document Generation
Download a free trial of Windward’s products or schedule a live demonstration.
© 2015 Windward Studios

www.windward.net • sales@windward.net • +1.303.499.2544

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